IoT has value, but is it a false dawn?


There are big forecasts for the Internet of Things, but will it fulfill its potential? James Pearce discusses what might stand in its way

When analysts predict a market segment will almost treble to more than $3 trillion within five years, you have to sit up and take note. Therefore it’s no surprise that high profile figures have begun labeling the Internet of Things as a “game-changer” for the mobile industry.

The figures speak for themselves. Gartner estimates the number of connected devices will grow from 4.9 billion at the end of last year to 20.7 billion by 2020. It will surpass the number of smartphones in use within the next three years, according to Ericsson.

To paraphrase Spiderman, with great growth comes great opportunity. This is especially true for the dealer channel, with operators keen to push machine-to-machine and IoT connections, and businesses longing to find solutions that can reduce overheads and provide them with more data.

So, IoT looks all good, right? The problem is, we’ve heard this before. Look back a few years and all anyone could talk about was unified communications. While it has indeed became an integral part of the industry today, it seemed to fade away.

Not long ago, we were all excited about wearables, and the potential opportunities it offered. When Apple launched the Apple Watch last year, some analysts predicted it would ship more than 20 million units. But wearables is still regarded as a niche product right now, and there still isn’t a compelling business case out there for resellers.

That’s not to downplay the potential IoT offers. A £2 trillion industry is a very sizeable pie, and the channel should definitely seek a way to get a slice of it. How big will that slice be?

Most of the experts we spoke to in our bumper IoT special said dealers are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this additional revenue stream. It is all about making sure they can connect the business case to the right solution, and then reap the rewards from IoT.